Don't Dump That Bait!

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Published on: Jun. 2, 2007

Last revision: Dec. 1, 2010

notorious invaders, including rusty crayfish and round goby, and maybe even zebra mussels.

The solution to bait bucket introductions is simple. Anglers shouldn’t dump their leftover bait in Missouri waters at the end of a fishing trip.

Alternatives to dumping include taking your bait home to use on a future fishing trip, offering it to another angler to use, dumping it on land far away from any waterway or placing it in a sealed container in the trash.

Releasing Captives

Another dangerous practice that appears to be increasing is that of “liberating” or releasing aquatic creatures that have been held captive in private aquariums or ponds.

The fish or animals may have grown too large to be confined, or their owners may no longer have the time or inclination to care for them. Many people believe the humane thing to do with unwanted fish or other animals is to release them into the wild.

Actually, this practice often causes harm to many other animals and can completely upset balanced ecological systems. Because of the severe damage even a single release can engender, the Conservation Department suggests that creatures kept in aquariums or ponds should ever be released to the wild. If a person feels they can no longer care for an animal, we recommend the following alternatives:

  • Talk to a pet store owner or the hobby aquarium society ( They may be able to help find a home for your pet.
  • Give the fish or other animals to others who might wish to care for them.
  • Dispose of the animals in a sealed container. Your veterinarian may be able to help if you feel that euthanizing the animals is the most appropriate solution.

Mussels on the Move

Aquatic invasive species like the zebra mussel can inadvertently be transferred from one lake to another. Zebra mussels “hitchhike” on boats, motors, trailers and aquatic plants. Adult zebra mussels can live for several days out of water, and their microscopic larvae can survive in boat bilge water, live wells, engine cooling systems and in bait buckets.

The solution to preventing the spread of invasive species that attach themselves to boats and other watercraft is somewhat more challenging, but you can help by following a few simple steps.

  • Inspect your boats and trailers thoroughly and remove any trash, mussels or aquatic weeds before leaving any water body.
  • Drain water from the motor, live well, bilge and transom wells, as well as any other water from your boat and

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